Tag Archives: Reflections

I’ll always remember…

Before my son goes to bed we read a few books to him and help him wind down from the day.  When he was little I would occasionally sing to him but he wasn’t always in need of it and quite often would fall asleep quickly cuddled in my arms. Singing became something we did on nights when it was tough to sleep or during the day when we sang silly numbers that made us both giggle.  Last week while my son was battling a cold I sang to him as he fought to get comfortable at the end of the day.  The song I sang was the song my Dad sang to me, Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral.

I have strong memories of my Dad singing to me.  I can hear his voice clearly in my head and if I close my eyes I can see him playing his guitar around the campfire.  Simple moments are often the most memorable it seems.  I remember time spent together as a family.  I remember feeling like I was part of something special.   I hope that my husband and I can find a way to give X. something similar, something special he can look back on with a smile.

I’m happy to say that as X has gotten better he hasn’t wanted me to stop singing. After we finish reading his stories he climbs into my lap, turns and looks me in the eye waiting for me to start.  It’s a lovely moment and another one I’m sure I’ll always remember.

I’m getting a little tired of 1 Timothy…

Women have always been a part of things.  From the very beginning Women have played an important role in the life and times of the people of God.  The moment that Eve plucked that apple {or some might say pomegranate} from the tree, women have definitely impacted the faith in good ways and in bad, much like the men.  As you travel through the Bible one encounters judges who were women, mothers who made choices, prophetesses who spoke the word of God, and countless others who impacted a people and helped shape their faith.

Lately it seems that the focus of much of the Christian blogging community has been placed on keeping women in their place.  On preventing women from taking positions of authority.  I wonder why so much emphasis and energy is placed on preventing ministry from being done?  Is this a good use of our resources?

There are so many blogs and so much passion surrounding this topic.  I’m pleased that people are invested in their faith but I have to say I’m getting a little tired of reading the same argument over and over again stating that 1 Timothy clearly indicates that I should not be an ordained pastor and women have no place in the church.  It’s interesting to me that things are so cut and dry for some people.  Life is rarely black and white.  Things are never that easy, at least not in the world I live in.  Jesus rarely spoke directly about anything.  His parables were told in such a way that not everyone would understand.  I just don’t think it’s as easy as picking one passage from the Bible to determine who’s in and who’s out as far as leadership goes.

When we look at 1 Timothy 2, there’s so much more than just the verse regarding leadership.  Shortly thereafter we see that the author of this letter declares women to be saved by childbearing after he forbids them from teaching. Do we honestly still believe that? What about women who don’t have children? Do we think a woman is only good with God once she bears a child?  I always thought that it was Jesus’ redemptive actions that saved us.

Understanding and interpretation changes over the years thanks to the infinite, complex and mysterious creator who continues to engage and enlighten us.  When we read the Bible we need to understand the context and the culture of the time it was written.  Reading the Bible through our own lens instead of that of a 1st century person risks skewing the meaning and the message behind it.  We must remember that 1 Timothy is first and foremost a letter written from one colleague to another addressing specific concerns relating to the Church in Ephesus.

These letters weren’t written as scripture or as a history for us.  They were written for a community, in this case it was from one colleague to another.  The author wasn’t thinking about the future, he was thinking about Timothy’s ministry in his present.  I think this is why we as a church tend to get in trouble with the Epistles.  The authors weren’t actually writing for us, they were writing for their communities.  They were writing the present, not the future.

I do accept the Epistles as scripture and see merit in reading them but I feel we must learn as much as we can about the context of the time and place we are reading about.  They are a large part of our history, a great part of our story and when we read them we must remember their original purpose.  None of the Bible can be read in isolation.  Everything comes from something. Everything has a story around it and all of that impacts the words we read on the page.

God has blessed us with a faith that is filled with mystery and wonder.  Our story has fear and hope, desire and passion.  We long to connect with God and that’s one thing that never changes.  Our history tells tales of men and women who’ve fought bravely for the faith, who’ve done what God asks and never gave up.  Women do play a part in this story.  We read stories of Rahab, Ruth, Deborah, Esther, Mary, Martha and so many more who’ve made lasting imprints on the fabric of our faith.  Each woman played a role.  Each one was called by God into service.  Each one played a part in bringing us to this point in our journey as a people of God.

We all have a part to play, a story of our own.  My story was challenged and affirmed by the church as I wrestled with discovering what it was God wanted from my life.  I was called by God to minister to his people.  That’s my story.  I am called by God to do his work and I happen to be a woman.  Women have always played a part in the workings of the people of God, I don’t think God wants to change that now.

 

Flames

The dance of a flame is incredible to watch.  Colors merge into one another. Slight variations in the atmosphere can cause it to burn brighter or fade away. Flames dance and flicker as they reach out around them seeking to spread their warmth and grow stronger, bigger.  They are as dangerous as they are intriguing. Flames are not something to mess with unless you know what you are doing.

I wonder if this is why God sent the Holy Spirit to the disciples in flame.  So they truly could feel the majesty and awe of it’s presence.  So they might be inspired to live in the flame, to dance boldly and spread the flame as they move in the world.

When the flame fills you, you must dance.  When the flame fills you, you must fan out into the world.  You are as dangerous as you are intriguing as nothing can stop you.  You must move.  You must share.  You must spread the light that’s in you with those you meet.

This week we celebrate Pentecost.  The coming of the spirit.  The dangerously intriguing spirit that inspires us, that motivates us, that changes us.

Are you ready to receive it?
Will you let it’s flame fill you and wrap you in it’s warmth?
Will you live in it’s message and spread the flame out in the world?

The spirit is coming…

Do I need a label maker?

Everyone has a label nowadays.  You have to be an ’emerging liberal conservative with evangelical tendencies’ to feel like you fit in in the Christian community.   It seems as though people believe that if you haven’t labeled your beliefs and put them in a category you’re not thinking enough about what it is you believe.

I don’t really understand the need for all this labeling.  Labels don’t really move us ahead and usually lead to division.  Then once you’ve divided yourself into categories you often find conflict comes next as each division thinks they’re right. After all the conflict you’ll find a lot of wounded people crying out in pain and I’m fairly certain this is not what Jesus wanted for us.

I cannot find one place in the Bible where Jesus said ‘you must label yourself according to beliefs and theological interpretation’.  Jesus is all about relationship and God’s love.

We all have labels that get put on us.  To some I’m a preacher.  To others I’m a teacher.  Some might call me pastor while others call me friend.  I’m also a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister and if I’m honest a pretty decent singer.  I can embrace a label for each part of my life and separate out sections of me or embrace the uniqueness that is me.   God created me to be all of these things.  Each part is important to the whole.

God created us all to be a part of the people of God.  Each part is important to the whole and we need to look at our differences as things that enhance the faith rather than detract from it.  We need to co-exist and embrace our diversity as it helps to create a rich, full faith that is constantly revealing truth to us.  When we focus on our differences as a negative thing and bring judgement into the mix we’ve lost perspective and purpose.

I don’t want a label.  I just want to follow Jesus.
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Do you think labels are important or do they hurt us?  I’d love to know what you think.

I had a weekend.

We had a long weekend.  A lovely weekend.  Thank you Queen Victoria.

My husband and I had a couple of days to ourselves as my Parents took care of our little guy.  This was the first weekend since he was born that we’ve been adults and boy did we take advantage of it.

On Friday we went out for a Mexican feast.  Saturday brought with it a trip to  Whole Foods {amazing} and then a visit to my favorite mall.  We did dinner again.  Watched HGTV in the wee hours of the morning.  I slept a lot.  There was conversation and silence.  A lovely brunch on Sunday.  It was a wonderful weekend.

We missed our little guy of course.   He’s home now and happy with Dad in the kitchen.  He had a wonderful time with his grandparents and is asking us for a dog.  Overall I’d say it was a success and something we must do again.  It was nice to be a grown up for a while.  It was nice to discover a little part of me that I hadn’t seen in a while.

Stuck

I think we’re stuck in the same model.  You know what I mean, the model of ‘doing church’ that we’ve been using for the last 75 years or so.

I use the term ‘doing church’ instead of ‘being church’ because most of us really are just doing it.  We get up Sunday mornings {or we don’t} and we go to church to have worship done for us.  We might throw some money on the plate, attend a few dinners and help out here and there but in actual fact the church is something we expect to be there for us.  It’s a place we go when we want tradition, to be comforted or just as a habit.  It’s something that doesn’t really change.

We are stuck.

Stuck is not a good thing to be.  When I think of stuck I imagine gum on the bottom of a shoe or a door that just won’t open.  Not pleasant experiences and definitely not something that will entice or serve anyone in a positive way.
As a church we are stuck.  We are unable or unwilling to move or release ourselves from the holding pattern we have been in for years because of fear, because of tradition, because of a desire to maintain some control over the process.

The thing is, we are not in control or we shouldn’t be.  God should be the captain of our ship.  God should be the one who is in charge and if you read the Bible you’ll see that often times people who get stuck on control or who like things a certain sort of way get into a lot of trouble {I’m looking at you Ahab & Solomon}.

It’s time for us to vision.  Not those stupid visions that happen when you throw 7 people on a committee and get them to draft a new statement of who we are but actual real life visioning.  We need to throw the people of God into a room and ask them where they want to be in 10 years.  We need to hear what they are passionate about and find ways of making ministry real and vital in our world.  We need to make a choice to work with God.  We need to seek out who God wants us to be.

Who does God want us to be?
Where is God leading us?

I’d love to know what you think.

{insert title here}

I am terrible at writing blog titles.  I stink at this particular part of the job.
Coincidentally {or not so coincidentally} I am also terrible at sermon titles.  I’m not one for witty catch phrases or smart twists of words.

If I ever write a book it will no doubt have a terrible working title and the real title will be ripped from my brain through a terrifying process of torture and deadline demands.  I think this alone might deter me from starting this process…

Where are the quiet waters?

If Psalm 23 had been written by the mother of a 2 year old who also happened to be a minister on a journey towards a more disciplined prayer life it might begin a little something like this:

The Lord is my Shepherd.  I’m well cared for and have all that I need except sleep. Sleep would be good God.  Sleep would be good.

I am a tired, tired soul.  This past week has been rough sleep wise.  I’ve been up at 3 more times then I care to admit.  Twice my son decided it was morning and another time I awoke with a brilliant idea for the blog that was gone as soon as I fell back asleep.  I really should sleep with a journal and pen for moments like that.  I’ve been getting up earlier and earlier.  This morning I was up at 5:45.  It has been suggested that God wants more time with me.  I would have thought that 5:45 was too early even for God, apparently I was wrong.

The Lord is my Shepherd.  He’s supposed to be leading me to rest by quiet waters, isn’t he?  Maybe that’s just for David…

I have next week off from preaching.  I hope to sleep, play, read, write and embrace all that extra time brings.  I am looking forward to more time.  Just time to do what ever comes forth.  It should be good for my soul.  Maybe I’ll find those quiet waters.

If God dropped by.

There is a tree in my front yard that is absolutely beautiful.  It flowers in the spring.  Has lots of full green leaves in the summer.  In the fall it turns color and begins to change into the stark stoic tree of winter.   Around dusk, when the light turns just the right shade, when the wind is blowing at just the right speed and the sun is at just the right height in the sky, it looks like it’s on fire.

The first time it happened I actually went out to examine the tree.  I knew it wasn’t on fire but it looked so strange and otherworldly.  It was quite the effect.  It’s happened a few times since and I enjoy the beauty that happens during that  exact mix of time, light and sun.  It’s quite a sight to behold.

When it happens I wonder how Moses felt when God made huge public displays of his presence.  My little light trick pales in comparison to the living, breathing God stepping into your presence by lighting a bush on fire or appearing as a swirling cloud.  Would Moses and the Israelites have taken these signs for granted?  Did they just get used to God’s big, bold appearances?

I wonder why those things don’t happen now.  Do they happen and we just don’t see them?  There are so many times I look back on a situation and realize how present God was with me but I missed it at the time.

Do you think God gets missed in the every day?  Would we even notice a burning bush these days?

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if God dropped by…

Disaster

My son has discovered a new word.  No.  {thanks Dad}

Strung together like a long word the repeated practice of no becomes nononononono and it echos through my home.   Would you like a cookie?  No.  Would you like a hug?  No.  Would you like a shower?  NONONONONONONO

He hates showers.

I should be happy.  It’s another word for his repertoire.  He’s now able to say all kinds of things like yellow, look, monkey, bubble, and why.  I would have though why would be the worst word.  It’s not.  No is.

When the answer to everything is no, the person asking the question can be quite frustrated.  On one level it’s entertaining.  On another, I just shake my head.

I wonder if this is how God feels when my instant reaction to difficult things is ‘no’.  Maybe I should give it chance and say ‘perhaps’.